On 14 June 2014, Bishop John Arnold ordained three men to the diaconate at Westminster Cathedral. Cyril Chiaha and David Lucuy were ordained for the Diocese of Westminster, while Kevin Athaide was ordained for the Diocese of Nottingham.
In his homily, Bishop John held up St Aidan, the Irish missionary who is known as the Apostle of the Northumbria, as an example of ministry. St Aidan understood that ‘you can only bring people to faith at the pace at which they are able and willing to offer themselves in faith.’
Speaking of the role of the ordained, Bishop John went on to say, ‘our service is to be one of encouragement, drawing people along at their pace, encouraging them in every way at the pace at which they can travel in faith. So, be sensitive to those whom you will serve.’
Referring to Pope Francis’ exhortation to the South American bishops to go out and walk with people even if they are walking away from the Church, Bishop John continued, ‘Pope Francis was making a very strong statement to all those who are asked to serve in the ordained ministry. Have we the courage to walk with people even while they’re walking away, so that by our patience, our service, our generosity, our encouragement, maybe at the end of the day they may recognise the Lord and return? That’s our mission.’
‘So, today, gentlemen, you are to be ordained as deacons to service and Pope Francis will remind us time and time again about what he believes ordained ministry to be all about: not a step up in rank or style or importance, but getting down to the job of building the Church, helping those who are placed in our pastoral care, being gentle always and understanding, forgiving, and full of mercy and love to those who search for God, and to be with those who maybe don’t know they’re searching for God or who are deliberately turning away. This is an ordained ministry which will demand the gifts of the Spirit working within you. It will demand your prayer life and your attention to the Word of God.’
All three newly-ordained deacons will continue in formation for the priesthood. Deacons assist the priest in both sacramental ministry and preaching as well as in pastoral care for God’s people.